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ESPN Sport Science tests Brandon Knight’s mental agility and jump shot

Without a doubt, this looks impressive. But without seeing how Brandon Knight compares to other NBA players, I’m not entirely sure how much credit to give him.

In the one time shown for Knight in the reaction drill without questions, he took .78 seconds. In what appears to be the same drill, Markieff Morris reacted in an average of .59 seconds. To be fair, Morris’ wingspan helped him reach the targets more quickly, and he never took the test while facing questions. But without comparing Knight to a similarly sized player and another player facing questions, I’m not sure what to make of his results.

Knight’s shot angles fall in the “optimal 52-to-54 angle range.” But Kawhi Leonard, whose jump shot needed a lot of work entering the draft, had a release angle of 51 degrees. Is one degree a large difference at this level, or do most players, like Knight shoot in the optimal angle range?

All of Knight’s shots have between 2 and 2.5 revolutions per second, an ideal backspin.* But Derrick Williams’ shots had 2.2 revolutions per second. Again, are those two special or common in this regard?

*Knight’s video said the ideal backspin is between 2 and 2.5 revolutions per second, but Williams’ video says between 2 and 3 RPS is ideal.

Stick to science

One more note: I’m sharing this video for Sports Science’s specialized tests, not its statistical comparisons, which don’t reveal anything useful.

As host John Brenkus said, Knight averaged more assists per game than Dwyane Wade did his final year at Marquette and scored more total points than Derrick Rose did at Memphis despite playing two fewer games than the reigning Most Valuable Player.

Neither of those statistics particularly impress nor surprise me.

Of course, Knight, a point guard, averaged more assists per game than Wade, a shooting guard who played fewer minutes per game. And despite playing two fewer games, Knight played 196 minutes more than Rose.


  • Jul 8, 20119:25 am
    by RandomGuy313


    did you know that BK was statistically better in every category at Kentucky than LeBron James in college!!! /sarcasm

  • Jul 8, 201110:25 am
    by Zollie


    @randomguy that’s hilarious.

    Frankly, none if this means much. As little it has meant for Kevin Durant to suck at benching 185, the same applies to Knight’s shot launch angle. It remains to be seen as to how good his shot will be regardless to his form. Actually, jimmer’s mechanics are a bit odd, yet we all know how he made a college career of it.

    • Jul 8, 201112:31 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      Zollie, I think there’s a huge difference. Kevin Durant will never bench 185 pounds in a game. Brandon Knight will take jump shots.

      • Jul 8, 20115:43 pm
        by Zollie


        Oh come on Dan. The bench press is supposed to be a measure of strength (a bad one at that if you ask me) which is a very important aspect of basketball, along with shooting. What I meant was that Knight’s effectiveness as a shooter will not be decided upon his mechanics but rather his ability to learn to take the good shot at the right time. Everyone panicked that Durant was too weak to play, because he “lacked the strength”. This might not be the prefect analogy, I know… But, my point is that the ability to play to your strengths in basketball can not be measured with these tests. I’m pulling for the guy, I just feel like he has a long way to go to utilize his good looking jumper.

  • Jul 8, 201111:19 am
    by khandor


    Those who think that this specific type of scientific testing means little in the real-life world of the NBA are sorely mistaken.
    Durant benching 185 is irrelevant … in comparison with Durant’s release angle, as a top notch scorer.
    Knight and Williams having sound release angles to their jump-shots is a fundamental component of their strong individual games are elite level basketball players who can REALLY shoot the ball … in comparison with their peers who do not come so-equipped.
    The correct answer to the question you asked is …
    Yes, a 1.0% difference in release angle is significant, when it comes to being a consistently sound shooter of the basketball, both, from mid-range and [especially] 3PT-shots.
    Likewise, revolutions of the ball is also a fundamental component of being an elite level shooter.
    Those without the ability to see accurately how the ball comes out of Knight’s and Williams’ hands, in relation to their less-talented peers, having little chance of assessing their skill-set properly.
    Both of these young men have what it takes to become high level players in the NBA, provided each one is actually used properly by his head coach.
    In the world of athletics … who your coach is can fundamentally make-or-break you as an elite level player, or not.

    • Jul 8, 201112:51 pm
      by RandomGuy313


      I disagree with you Khandor. The scientific testing of revolutions on a ball and release angle are not as important as the experiential and intuitive knowledge of the shooter himself and the instructor.

      Scientific testing in this avenue is unnecessary as any decent scout will be able to understand by looking at the player shoot if they will be elite level or not.

      • Jul 8, 20117:19 pm
        by Jeremy


        I guess this is what basketball arguments are going to look like until the lock out ends.

      • Jul 10, 201112:02 am
        by khandor


        Shooter and instructor knowledge are certainly important … in conjunction with a number of other factors like release angle and number of revolutions, which are 2 aspects of successful shooting that an excellent shooter or instructor has a great deal of first-hand knowledge about.
        There are a great many “decent scouts” that have little to no idea what an authentic elite level shooter actually looks like when he shoots the ball.
        It’s the ability to assess accurately stuff like release angle and revolutions on the ball without the benefit of having lab-based scientific testing in the field that distinguishes an elite level scout from a run-of-the-mill one.

  • Jul 8, 201111:49 am
    by Pratik


    Regardless of what people might say in terms of predicting the future of BK’s nba career, that video was amazing. Excited to see BK in a Pistons uniform.

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